Public courses, academies essential for Indian golf: Vijay Singh

February 27th, 2008 - 6:05 pm ICT by admin  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Gurgaon, Feb 27 (IANS) Former world No.1 Vijay Singh of Fiji like many others is convinced of India’s potential in golf. The number of youngsters playing the sport and the emergence of winners, he feels, are the key to the game growing, but he would also like more public courses and academies. As he prepared himself for his first tournament appearance in India in this township adjacent to the capital, Vijay’s take on golf infrastructure was very clear.

“First of all, you need a lot more golf courses, not only, you know, private golf courses; you need golf courses where normal guys can go out and play, pay and play, if he wants to.

“That’s very important. I don’t think the amount of people you have here playing golf, you just don’t have enough golf courses, and that’s one of the things that needs to be done,” said the Fijian, who began his career in Asia before hitting big time in the US.

“And you know, you have golf courses and you’ve got to have academies where young kids can go and learn how to play. It starts off from building more golf courses in the country, and that’s the key.”

On his own plans to design a course in India, Vijay said: “There’s one already being planned in Goa. I think they should be up and going very soon, that’s my first one in India.

“Hopefully I can get a lot more opportunities to design golf courses here. I’m doing a few more in the Asian region but in India that’s the first one. And probably after that, we’ll see if we can get more.”

When asked about Indian players, Vijay said: “You know, I played with the guys you mentioned, Jyoti (Randhawa), Jeev (Milkha Singh) and Arjun Atwal, and also Daniel (Chopra), so they are pretty good players.

“It’s going to help a lot of local players, seeing those guys playing abroad, that’s going to help the local players over here get fired up. That’s the key; we need more guys like that.

“I’ve seen them briefly on the Asian Tour events that I’ve played in. I played in Singapore and I saw a few of those guys there, and I’m sure I’ll see quite a few this week.

“Apart from that, I have not. I can’t say that I have. I’ve watched Golf Channel and they have the tours over here sometimes, and I see Indian golfers.

“You need more tournaments like this to actually give an opportunity for the young golfers to see how golf really is. You know, who you have to play against to make a living. And week-in, week-out, we have tournaments like this all over the world, so we need to get more over here in India so they can see what golf is all about.”

In the past Vijay has played in India twice, at the same DLF course in Skins Games, but this will be the first tournament.

On the DLF course itself, Vijay added: “The golf course is in good condition, very tricky with so many holes where you’ve got to really understand where you’re going to hit the shot. On the ninth, you have to be careful, otherwise you could have a very high number there very quickly.

“Also you can get really good lies and really impossible lies, so you have to control your ball off the tees and be in the fairways and on the correct side of the greens. Very undulating greens, very tricky greens, so you have to be very careful where you take your shots.”

On the difference in the DLF course since the time he played here, Vijay said: “Well, this is a new golf course. I’ve never played here but when I came here, I played the Skins Game. Really, the infrastructure around the golf course itself is unbelievable. They didn’t have small buildings when I came here then.

“Overall I think golf-wise, there’s a lot more golfers playing now, a lot more young professionals who are playing. There are quite a few Indian golfers that are pretty good, so that’s changed a lot.

“You had a new winner here a few weeks ago, so that’s good for golf here in India, for a young guy to go out there and win, with the competition we have, it’s really, real incredible.”

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